The bipolar nature of Hungary’s politics and the country’s education system are the targets of Gábor Reisz’s “Explanation for Everything,” which world premieres in the Venice Film Festival’s Horizons strand.
The film is Reisz’s third feature after the acclaimed “Some Inexplicable Reason” (2014) and “Bad Poems” (2018). Set in summer in Budapest, “Explanation for Everything” follows high school student Abel, who is struggling to focus on his final exams while coming to the realization that he is hopelessly in love with his best friend Janka. The studious Janka has her own unrequited love with married history teacher Jakab — who had a previous confrontation with Abel’s conservative father. The tensions of a polarized society come unexpectedly to the surface when Abel’s history graduation exam turns into a national scandal.
Hungary has been ruled by a right-wing government since 2010. “I never wanted to make a political movie — just tell a story that that in every level, there are political topics, because what I felt was that the in last few years you could not talk about anything in Hungary that is not connected to politics,” Reisz told Variety. “Every question is — are you right or left? And for example, about me, I don’t know which side I’m on. I know I’m not a right-wing person, but I’m not a left-wing person [either], I can find a lot of positive stuff in every side. And so it wasn’t a decision, the main thing was to talk about these kinds of people.”
The filmmaker also takes exception to some of the practices in the educational system. “I have a lot of problem with the education system,” Reisz said. “I think the graduation exam in Hungary it’s absurd. In a day you have to know everything about history, everything about literature. … It’s not correct. I’m not sure its really equal.”
Reisz has a clear message that he wants to convey via the film. “The message is to start to communicate. In Hungary — this is the worst part — a few years ago, we started to learn to not communicate between the two sides and if you don’t communicate, you don’t want to understand the people from the other side. And it’s terrible. We start to behave like robots,” Reisz said.
Films Boutique is handling sales on the film and has already sold to I Wonder Pictures for Italy and Filmtett for Romania.